(2019) Made from old bush vines of 50% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, plus Syrah and Carignan, this is a substantial and meaty wine, deep in colour and aroma, with plum and tobacco, and yet a glimpse of something floral and violetty too. In the mouth there is terrific black fruit sweetness, an initial surge joined by grippy, firm tannins and tart plum-skin acidity to give this tension. Again that one dimension is soon expanded as a fresher red fruit character joins, though it is structure and a fair heft of alcohol that gives it a powerful finish.
(2019) A unusual Pinot Gris from vineyards in the Muscadet area of the Loire, and therefore classified as an IGP Val de Loire rather than Muscadet. Its 'flute' bottle gives it a rather Alsace look, and indeed the stuff inside has something in common with Pinot Gris from Alsace, including some residual sugar. And like Alsace, there's no way to tell that from the label which is a source of potential confusion for a thoroughly nice wine. Some floral, candy and citrus notes on the nose are attractive, a little stone-fruit, peachy character too. In the mouth there is good intensity here, definite sweetness, but a big rushing core of acidity sweeps the wine along to a balanced finish. For me, a banker for Thai or spicier Chinese cuisine.
(2019) Made from 100% Chenin Blanc, this is a wine made by the traditional method with long secondary fermentation in individual bottles. It pours with fine bubbles, a pale straw colour, and immediately attractive nose; crisp and fruity but with enough creamy character from its time on the lees. In the mouth it's a lovely, easy-drinking style, very fresh and free-flowing with orchard fruits and a zippy lemony acidity that is delicate and summery, with no tartness, into a finely-honed finish.
(2019) What a lovely Sauvignon Blanc, and quite a different expression from the Loire big hitters of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. Part of that is down to the 18 months this unoaked wine stayed on the lees, meaning that even with only 12.5% alcohol it has texture and creaminess as well as vivid fruit. There's a touch of honey and apricot to the otherwise pristine apple and citrus aromas and flavours, nuttiness from the lees ageing rather than anything grassy, and a rounded, balanced finish.
(2019) Made from the classic old bush vines of the Roussillon, this is 50% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Carignan and 15% Mourvèdre, with around one third of the blend aged in barrel for six months. With a hefty 15% alcohol declared, there is a touch of Porty quality on the nose, all black cherry, plum and a touch of violet, a smidgeon of chocolate and some Sandalwood spice and tobacco filling in. In the mouth it is a big wine with a little bit of alcohol heat on the back palate, but there's no denying the appeal of the copious black fruit, fudge-like smooth tannins and peppy cherry acidity to balance as the spice fills in the finish once more. A chunk of steak with this is the way to go.
(2019) From the fine Rhône appellation of Ventoux, this is a blend of 70% Grenache with Syrah in a forward, fulsome style that lovers of Châteauneuf-du-Pape will appreciate. But there's a beautiful violet and cracked black pepper elegance on the nose too, copious black fruits, a real lift suggesting kirsch, and blue/black intensity of fruit. On the palate the wine bursts with concentrated fruit: tangy and dark plum and plum skins, blueberry and damson, definite ripeness and power, but again there is elegance in the fine but grippy tannins that add a pleasing roughening edge to all that smooth fruit. Good acidity balances and freshens, extending the finish and promising a bit of longevity for this if you can cellar for five to eight years. Watch the video for more information and food matching ideas.
(2017) Another deeply-coloured wine, organic certified and coming from the traditional Corbières appellation. It blends 40% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 20% Carignan and 10% Mourvèdre, all aged in oak barrels, 60% of which were new. It's immediately serious and savoury on the nose, vinous and darkly-hued, with damson and black cherry, a wisp of smoke and a bit of graphite in there too. Solid and powerful in the mouth, the vanilla of the oak helps soften the tannins, but it is a structured wine, crying out for beef or lamb - either that or give it some time: the fruit, black olive savouriness, density of texture and structure suggest to me this will cellar well for five years.
(2017) This is 100% Pinot Noir and comes from a small producer in the very south of the region, currently in conversion to organic certification. The colour is deep and the most striking aspect of the nose is the briary, truffly, lifted cherry floral character that is reminiscent of Cru Beaujolais in a way, the palate showing delightful red fruit ripeness and freshness - cherry and raspberry - before a drying, savoury tannin, nimble acidity and a little smoothing from its time in large oak 'foudres' eases the finish. Serve it a little cool and it is a sheer delight.
(2017) Yet another Languedoc pink that's a ringer in colour (and grape blend, 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah) for Provence rosé, but in this case, quite different in character: after a light, summer fresh nose there's real intensity on the palate: more tang and more fruit concentration than most Provence examples, real zip with lemony acidity powering through decisively.
(2017) An unusual sparkling rosé, made in the Loire Valley by the traditional method, with second fermentation in individual bottles. It's a blend of Gamay, Grolleau and Pineau d'Aunis, and has quite a deep colour with streaming small bubbles. On the nose it is all about buoyant, cheerful red fruits, summery and bright with rose-hip and strawberry. In the mouth that delightful red berry fruitiness and freshness continues, a cut of tart raspberry to add lovely balancing acidity, but the sweet elegance of the fruit powers through. Delightful and different.